Former Louisiana Volunteer Fire Department Treasurer Pleads Guilty

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) -- A former treasurer of the Judice Volunteer Fire Department has pleaded guilty to theft and was ordered to repay $25,100 in department money.

Sandy LeBlanc, 30, of Duson, also was put on three years of supervised probation Monday. She was was accused of embezzling the money over six months in 2003, mainly through forged checks.

''This is all volunteer and everybody does their part, so this kind of thing put everybody on edge,'' said Judice Fire Chief Troy Lopez.

The $25,100 in missing money accounted for about a third of the department's annual budget, which ranges from $70,000 to $80,000 a year, much of it raised from community donations and fund-raisers, Lopez said.

''We've been struggling a good while to run the department,'' he said. ''It was kind of getting tight.''

Prosecutor Daniel Landry said that LeBlanc made a $1,500 payment Monday when she pleaded guilty and has agreed to pay restitution of $655 per month for the next three years. Landry said the missing money was discovered during an audit of the department finances.

Lopez said LeBlanc had been given the opportunity to pay the money back before the theft charge was brought. Lopez said he did not know where the money went.